Protecting jobs and services at St Catherine’s Association in Wicklow a priority

IMPACT trade union, which represents 166 staff at St Catherine’s Association in Co Wicklow, has said that protecting jobs and services at the care facility is a top priority, following the announcement that contracts for all staff working there for one year or less are being terminated.

IMPACT official Catherine Keogh said that the union has sought a meeting with management at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) in order to ascertain details on the extent of the financial deficit at St Catherine’s, and to discuss a plan to help protect jobs and services at the care facility.

St Catherine’s Association provides care to clients who have intellectual and other disabilities.

Ms Keogh explained, “What we know so far is that a substantial number of people working on fixed term contracts at St Catherine’s will not have their contracts renewed. Our understanding is that most of those contracts were due to expire in August, but the employer has now given these workers just one month’s notice.

“We represent 166 staff at St Catherine’s, and while we recognise that the association is dealing with a significant deficit, it is vital that we engage with management in order to ensure that the services are protected and that jobs are retained. We have made a request to the LRC in order open discussions as soon as possible” she said. 

IMPACT represents a variety of grades in St Catherine’s, including special needs assistants (SNAs), social care workers and occupational therapists.

Ms Keogh said that insufficient information had been provided to the union at a previous meeting at the LRC. “What we need now is to get back into constructive talks and formalise a robust plan that will see the service through this current difficulty. Our starting point must be to establish the scale of the deficit, and negotiate an outcome that can protect our members jobs and protect this valuable service.”

Ms Keogh explained that staff had salary payments delayed on a number of occasions in recent months, indicating the likelihood of financial difficulties at St Catherine’s.

Ms Keogh said that St Catherine’s is partly funded by the HSE, and that the health body has confirmed that the current financial difficulties have not been caused by any cut in its funding.